A major new acquisition has been added to the impressionist paintings in the permanent collection of the High Museum of Art. Bazille's "Beach at Sainte-Adresse" was presented recently by the Forward Arts Foundation.
The seascape is the fourth work presented by Forward Arts to the museum over the past several years. All of the gifts have been 19th-century French paintings. The foundation has presented the museum in the past with paintings by Corot, Vuillard, and Pissarro for the permanent collection.
Jean Frederic Bazille's "Beach at Sainte- Adresse" is now on exhibit on the second floor of the High Museum in the 19th-century European Gallery.
It is one of the finest of Bazille's impressionist views, painted in the early part of his short life. Only about 75 paintings by Bazille exist. Museaum director Gudmund Vigtel said that he "is especially pleased to have one of these rare paintings at the High."
The painting was formerly in the collections of relatives of the artist, for whom it was painted, and later in the Fabre collection. Most recently it has been in a New York private collection. In 1978 it was in the major Bazille exhibition organization by the Art Institute of Chicago.
In Gleyre's studio in Paris Bazille met the future impressionists Sisley, Monet, and Renoir. It was through his friendship with Monet and Bazille first experimented in painting directly from nature in the open. Bazille was also in contact with Courbet and Manet, who both had great influence on him.
In 1864, Monet persuaded Bazille to visit Honfleur, near Le Havre. In a letter to his parents the artist described the appeal of the setting, "especially the sea, or rather the Seine broadening out which gives delightful horizon." The following year, in which he shared a studio with Monet in Paris, he painted a pair of long over-door paintings.
One was a view of cows in a field at Saint- Sauveur (now in a private collection in Japan), and the other was the seascape of the beach at Sainte-Adresse, looking toward Le Havre. This same view was the subject of paintings by Monet; especially close is one now in the Minneapolis Institute, but Bazille's work is distinguished not only by its much greater size but by the particularly vigorous quality of his strokes and the strength of his composition , uniting land, sea, and sky into one powerful whole.